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Svante August Arrhenius was born on February 19 1859 the son of Svante Gustaf Arrhenous and Carolina Christina Thunberg His ancestors were farmers his uncle became Professor of Botany and Rector of the Agricultural High School at Ultuna near Uppsala and later Secretary of the Swedish Academy of Agriculture His father was a land surveyor employed by the University of Uppsala and in charge of its estates at Vik where Svante was born The family moved to Uppsala in 1860 The boy was educated at the Cathedral School where the rector was a good physics teacher From an early age Svante had shown an aptitude for arithmetical calculations and at school he was greatly interested in mathematics and physics In 1876 he entered the University of Uppsala studying mathematics chemistry and physics The practical instruction in physics was not of the best and in 1881 he went to Stockholm to work under Professor E Edlund at the Academy of Science Here Arrhenius began by assisting Edlund in his work on electromotive force measurements in spark discharges but soon moved to an interest of his own This resulted in his thesis 1884 Recherch sur la conductibilite galvanique des electrolytes Investigations on the galvanic conductivity of electrolytes From his results the author concluded that electrolytes when dissolved in water become to varying degrees split or dissociated into electrically opposite positive and negative ions The degree to which this dissociation occurred depended above all on the nature of the substance and its concentration in the solution being more developed the greater the dilution The ions were supposed to be the carriers of the electric current in electrolysis but also of the chemical activity The relation between the actual number of ions and their number at great dilution when all the molecules were dissociated gave a quantity of special interest activity constant The idea of a connection between electricity and chemical affinity once advocated by Berzelius had
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